TED Conversations

David Johnson

Remote Emergency Medical Responder, Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir

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Science is developing the tools towards de-extinction of species on the planet that have become extinct. The question becomes; Should we?

Stewart Brand and his colleagues are at the biotech precipice of reviving extinct species. The Revive and Restore project plans to not only bring species back but restore them to the wild, as well as protect currently endangered species.

I don't think any of us will have a problem with the latter, this discussion is focused on the primary goal; reintroduction of extinct species. We are not talking about dinosaurs here, but the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Heath Hen, European Aurochs, Bucardo, The Taz Tiger, etc.

Up for debate here: Should we?

Where we can all appreciate the science being developed, we must discuss the implications of initiating projects like this. I submit we need to discuss this on behalf of the existing species that we have, as well as for the animals that are lost.

Some questions to consider:

Do we value the argument that we should 'undo the harm' that humans have caused in the past, due to over-hunting or destruction of habitat? Should we rewrite or undo history?

Many of these species have not been in the natural environment for 100 years. It is fair to say that the natural predators or prey of these species, the plants or insect life they feed on, the environments they roam through ... have altered in their absence. Has the cycle of the earth, moved on without them?

We have a long history of experiencing what can happen when biodiversity is altered by introducing a species not indigenous to the area in question. Cane Toads in Australia, Grey Squirrel in Europe or the Gypsy Moth.

Is this project actually an introduction of a species back into an environment that may not be able to sustain it as it once did?

Even though we can grieve the lost of the Dodo, should we bring it back at all costs?

Or as Daniel Chan asks below;

how can we effectively simulate the effects of introducing pre-existing species to the environment before actually doing so?

What other Questions should we ask?


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    Mar 15 2013: The man did not say lets clone all your food ,or your children..he said he wants to reproduce extint species,some will run free in the wild and some will end up entirely on reserves.Joking about remaking your dead grandmother,or being over run with wolly mamoths dosent seem like a serious thought process,I like jokes but their is a serious problem with our negative attitude here that you are missing >WHAT INDUSTRY ASKS YOUR PERMISSION BEFORE THEY DO THINGS? NONE. If we dont back these guys it will go underground and be funded by the military or some agenda laden group. This could be our project which we fund and oversee. Currently we are a culture obssessed with our own survival,which is full of stress.Being a culture which is fascinated with repair,reciprocity and obligation would change us deeply,no longer would our are children be playing gladiator sports,or medevial video games,little girls would not be obssessed with declaring themselves princesses of control..Culture is as culture does. This group is seeing if we want the project,they are watching us to see what we say,and we sound negative and afraid. They will avoid our opinions if we do not support them. This is not a project which requires us to do anything but say yes..all the other changes require our participation mostly.You yourself wish to improve our situation,our mental collective....but it cannot happen without a change of theme. What you talk about,what you buy,what movie you watch ,where you go for holiday,what logo is on your tshirt all maintains our collective reality to remain sunk in the mud. We wish a change,to be better as a race,we dont need more stuff,and we dont seem able to really help other cultures without dragging them in to our inane obssessions with competion and posturing as aristocrats who see others as inferiors. This is an opportunity for us to say we CARE about our desruction..its is noit about giving up the car or guns or electricity,or money to government.Try rethinking
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      Mar 16 2013: We will infer from your comments, one vote on the 'for' side. Thank you for speaking your mind, thats what this is all about.

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